Review: The Shadow of Malabron by Thomas Wharton

The Shadow of Malabron is the first in a trilogy by new-ish author Thomas Warton (not to be confused with the Nobel Laureate of the same name). Its an uneven offering, and one about which Im a little ambivalent.

The book starts with an interesting prologue of sorts that hints at something fable-like to come, and sets up what seems as to be an intriguing and novel idea. Unfortunately, as is often the case with prologues, the book turns its attention elsewhere, and the reader is soon looking on as young teen Will Lightfoot bickers with his widower father and young sister as they embark upon a camping trip.

The notion of setting up camp in a new and unknown place, of course, is a harbinger of things to come, and soon Will finds himself in a motorcycle accident that lands him in what is apparently known as the Perilous Realm, a sort of parallel story-world. The name of the place is apt, as Will finds himself being hunted down by the Night King. As is frequently the case in this sort of quest-based epic fantasy, Will is befriended by a motley assortment of allies, and with them, he sets out to find his way home.

There are a few good moments in The Shadow of Malabron that point to Warton as a writer to watch. There are some neat turns of phrase scattered here and there throughout the novel, as well as some great moments such as the library that is physically constructed from books. As a whole, though, the novel is competent but nothing notable: it goes through the motion of a standard epic fantasy without daring to step off this oft-travelled path in search of something new for readers to enjoy. This is a shame, as Warton clearly has some talent as an author, and a more creative take on the premise could have resulted in something quite interesting.

As it is, The Shadow of Malabron is a fast read that many young readers will likely enjoy, but that many adults will find themselves comparing with classics such as The Lord of the Rings and other well-known quest-based novels.

Purchase The Shadow of Malabron.

Other books by Thomas Warton you might enjoy: Salamander; Icefields

(Im not sure if this book is by the same Thomas Warton, but it sounds fabulous, and Id love to get my hands on it)

Forthcoming reviews: Demon of the Air by Simon Levack (mystery); A Brush with Death by Hailey Lind (mystery).

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